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Tale of a Hammock...

Some miserable SOB stole my hammock from our dock on the Russian River last week. (We spend Tues/Fri at SF; Fri/Monday at the Russian River.) On the way back to SF today we stopped at two places in Santa Rosa that we normally would not: the first, a large Kmart. The second, an equally large Wallmart. The reason that we don't normally shop at either of those two places has nothing to do with snobbery- it's simply that we do most of our shopping in or near SF during the week, and neither of those two stores have outlets nearby. Costco, thankfully, has an outlet in SF.

As it turned out neither of those stores had a replacement hammock, but to someone who was looking at the two stores with a fresh eye, it was impossible to not notice the difference: Kmart is among the walking dead: there were literally more employees than there were customers. Wallmart seemed to be doing just fine. To our eyes, both stores had pretty much the same types, quality and depth of merchandise, and were about equal in atmosphere. Yet Walmart is thriving; Kmart is all but dead.

I'm making an assumption here- always dangerous- that the pricing for most items in the two stores is fairly competitive. So why does one store live, and the other die?


  • OK, I scanned all three links. Let's grant that there are philosophical differences in management style. Now let's refocus on my question:

    What light does this any of this shed on why customers are at Wal-Mart and not Kmart? Are you seriously suggesting that customers are aware of the abstruse philosophical differences in management style, and shun one in favor of the other because of this?

  • edited August 2017
    Hi @Old_Joe,

    The same took place in Murrells Inlet, SC that you have described above. Back in the mid 80's a new Kmart opened in Inlet Square Mall as one of three anchor stores. J C Penney and Belks were the other two. Since, this was a new mall all the stores seemed to do well; however, there was no Walmart close by. Then, Walmart came to Murrells Inlet and customers begin to trade more and more at Walmart. For years, we bought at both places because some things at Kmart seemed to appeal to us over some of the goods Walmart offered. Today, there is no Kmart in Murrells Inlet and the mall is now struggeling to attract patrons to its remaining stores which are now mostly regional and local type based enterprises. Belks a regional retailer is now the only anchor store left while Walmart about a mile a way is thriving. The Kroger has done well through the years back then and now too.

    One, might ask Why?

    These two subject stores caught trade from a good number of tourist that came to the area during the summer months and Walmart being the mass marketing retailer that it has become caught more and more trade until it begin to get the lion's share with more and more locals favoring Walmart over Kmart. And, so it goes ... Kmart & J C Penney are no more in Murrels Inlet although a Stein Mart has moved into the old J C Penney location. The mall just does not attract the traffic that it use to. While if you are a gent and want a nice dress suite, dress slacks, or prep attire, etc., in Murrells Inlet, Belks' men's department is the place to go. Drive ten miles and there is a Dillards ... drive 60 miles and there is Charleston. While, in Myrtle Beach about 20 miles away there are a good number of outlet stores including some upscale retail shops like Brooks Brothers.

    Want a really good hammock? Google and look at Pawley's Island Hammocks.

  • edited August 2017

    Yes, I am saying that me-first philosophy filtered down to how the stores were run and essentially destroyed the business. As the articles I posted state, Lampert has been slowly sucking the company dry via buybacks for the benefit of shareholders at the expense of customers/employees and store quality. From the third article:
    "The retail industry is predicated on serving the customer, valuing the customer, listening to the customer, and ultimately giving the customer what she wants — and it’s the employees who deliver this. Anything less is a recipe for terminal illness, if not suicide," says Robin Lewis, a 40-year retail consultant and CEO of industry publication The Robin Report. "Clearly, in the case of Sears, Eddie Lampert has turned a completely blind eye to this truism, and has been bleeding the company to a long and slow but well-managed death for the sole benefit of major investors and himself."

    Under Lampert, Sears failed to invest in major capital improvements, such as store maintenance or new store concepts. Fortune recounted a 2005 strategy session between Lampert and the top two-dozen executives of the company:

    Once their presentations started, Lampert also began poking holes in virtually every idea.

    'What's the benefit of that?' he asked again and again. 'What's the value?' He shot down a modest $2 million proposal to improve lighting in the stores. 'Why invest in that?' He skewered a plan to sell DVDs at a discounted price to better compete with Target and Wal-Mart. 'It doesn't matter what Target and Wal-Mart do,' he declared.

    As Lampert slashed spending in-store improvements, "the stores began going down," a 41-year Kmart store employee who was laid off in February 2016 told Business Insider.

    When Lampert took over, company executives visited stores and told workers they were no longer allowed to discuss any problems the stores were having, according to the employee.

    "When they quit asking and started telling you how it should be run according to corporate standards, the stores began to go down," the employee said. "There is no morale in any of the stores."

    An employee of a Sears store in Elyria, Ohio, told Business Insider last year that his store is falling apart.

    "The walls and floors in my store are all beat to hell ... the roof leaks, the escalator and the elevator break down frequently, but 'Fast Eddie' doesn't want to spend money on the stores," the employee said.
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  • Thanks to all for your observations and suggestions!
  • I keep recommending to my local hardware store to carry hammocks. And put them up for display so I can test them out. Today would be perfect, the forecast is for the highest ever recorded temperature in Eugene, Oregon, has to beat 108 degrees.
  • edited August 2017
    @Muggles208- You're on to something. I found a nice assortment of hammocks at a local independent but very large hardware store in Santa Rosa. It was nice to be able to look at and feel the things before buying, although I probably could have saved a few bucks on the internet.
  • Several years ago we bought a very nicely made hammock from LL Bean when we were traveling in New England area. Probably paid a bit more than Amazon. Like Old Joe said it is better to have the chance to see and feel it before order one online. This one can easily support an adult or two comfortably.
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  • @Maurice- Not really. The particular store that we visited was clean and seemed to be pretty well-stocked, although I will have to say that we didn't look in the food sections at all. We've shopped in that store maybe three times in twenty years for a few specialty items that we couldn't find elsewhere at the time. This particular store seemed to be about the same on all of our visits. No customers, though... about ten cars in the parking lot.
  • The thing is with the Internet being such a convenient and inexpensive way to shop, to succeed in retail companies have to do the opposite of what Kmart and Fast Eddie have done. Companies have to make shopping a truly pleasant experience with unique items, attractive displays/entertainments that delight the customer and truly helpful salespeople. It's what people in the industry call "destination shopping." I think boutique stores, luxury stores and some megastores like Walmart that sell everything cheaply in one place are the future. It's the mid-range store with mediocre run of the mill stuff like Kmart and probably Target too that will suffer.
  • Murrell's Inlet? I remember taking many a trip there to escape the crowds of Myrtle Beach. Many buckets of steamers later, I have fond memories of that little out of the way hamlet...which no doubt is nothing like I recall.
  • edited August 2017
    Hi @PRESSmUP,

    Thanks for making comment.

    Murrells Inlet is still a nice quaint fishing village; but, with a drinking problem created by the many that now visit the restaurants, and bars, etc. At one time, years back, there was talk by some locals that wanted to put chains with padlocks on every street that led to the Inlet; and, then issue keys to only those that belonged. Natually, this did not come to be. I feel blessed for my family to have a small second home there now for many years. Yes, it has had (and continues to have) a good amount of new housing and other development that keeps coming its way.

    In South Carolina ... Murrells Inlet is now known as the seafood capital of the state for its many great restaurants which now total about 114. One of the oldest, with roots dating back to the Civil War era, is the "Hot Fish Club" and a favorite of mine.

    In addition, Mickey Spillane a best selling author called the Inlet home. Back in the 80's I'd catch Mickey eating at the counter at Flo's Place (one of his favorites).

    And, if you want a really good hammock ... visit the Hammock Shop, Pawleys Island. They maintain a shop staffed by native skilled craftsmen where a hammock can be commission and signed the craftsman that made it or you can buy from their inventory.


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